Posted March 29, 2011 3:59 pm by with 2 comments

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Did you know that Hotmail is the second most used web-mail client, beating Gmail by over 94%? Gotta wonder how many of those accounts are throw aways for junk mail, but I digress before I even get started.

Microsoft is looking to strengthen its bid to make Hotmail the leading web-mail client by making it more interactive.

Right now, email is either text or HTML based which means your only real option for hooking people up is to include a link in your email. Microsoft wants to take that link and deliver that information right inside the email blank.

Imagine getting that YouTube video of a cat eating spaghetti right in your email client. No need to click! Even better, is the ability to add real time information in an email such as this example from Netflix.

Here, the customer is able to view instant movie choices, read pop-up reviews and add items to his queue without leaving the email client.

The ability to interactive with email on the same screen is even more important now that people are using tablets and smartphones to access their mail. Studies have shown that people prefer to stay inside their current application when completing a task and this is how you get that done.

Adding interactivity to email also gives the marketer a behavioral edge. We’re highly suggestible creatures, so “click this one button to add this movie to your queue” is going to be much more effective than “click here to open a browser, login, pick the movie, add to queue, now close browser and go back to your email.”

I’m a busy email user and I routinely give up on offers because they require too many steps to complete or the link to the email is broken, or I can’t remember my login to the website. If I was given the opportunity to complete a task without leaving the email message, I’d guess that my conversion rate would rise at least 30%.

The downside to this miracle of efficiency is security and that’s why Microsoft is only offering the option to a few trusted clients at the start.  Interactive emails come with the kind of coding that makes mail services nervous. It’s too easy to hide a malicious code in the script which means every piece has to be checked before it’s delivered.

Sounds like there are still a few chinks in the system, but it’s without a doubt, the future of email and for marketers, it’s a good thing.

What  would you do if you could make your marketing emails interactive?

  • Great article Cynthia, The thing about hotmail is that they have to continually look to improve their service and this is certainly a big tick, as was the live chat from your inbox. You can’t sit still. Just look at Myspace and Facebook. $500m down the toilet there for sitting on your hands.

  • Don Draper

    This is a direct copy from gmail. What is the number 1 web-based email client?